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7 Ways to Explain the Importance of a Nonprofit CRM

A sophisticated nonprofit CRM can be pricey. Especially if you’re looking for a tool to optimize your organization, you should be prepared to make an investment. People understand this, but when the time comes to choose, there are usually two reactions from decision-makers. The first group says, “Think about the benefits!” The second group thinks, “We have a budget — there’s got to be a cheaper way”

If you’re part of the first group, it can be challenging to convince the second that investing in a nonprofit CRM is worth the price. Even if everyone at your nonprofit is enthusiastic about the upgrade, it can be tricky to explain the expense to your donor base. While we can’t say how everyone will respond, we do have a few ideas for explaining your decision to invest in the right nonprofit CRM. These have worked for nonprofits in the past and hopefully will work for you.

The Benefits of a Nonprofit CRM to Your Board

Your first hurdle, as the nonprofit CRM advocate, is to get approval from your board. What we’ve learned from listening to many nonprofits over the years is it comes down to results. Luckily, there are nonprofit CRM options that deliver meaningful results, and quickly. Here’s how you can communicate those results to your board.

Increased Donor Retention and LTV

Donor retention is an important piece of your overall fundraising strategy. Most often, the cost of finding brand new potential donors and nurturing them through the entire journey is much higher than motivating a first time donor to give a second time.

A nonprofit CRM will help you engage with all your donors the right way. You can provide the information they want to know at the exact moment they are most interested. Making the right asks at the right time is easier, as well. A data-driven CRM will provide suggestions based on the behavior of other donors in the past.

What all this personalized, data-driven communications amounts to is higher donor satisfaction. Your base feels included, informed and important. Those emotions inspire loyalty, retention and an overall increase in lifetime value. We don’t have to tell you that the fastest way to board approval is increased lifetime value of your donors.

More Capacity from Your Employees

Another trend all board members love to hear about is capacity. Specifically, how can your current team do more? The right tool can help with that. A powerful illustration for the immediate impact of a nonprofit CRM to your board is showing a long list of tasks.

Put together all the daily, weekly and monthly tasks your team completes, plus the hours spent, that can be automated through software. Build extra enthusiasm with a plan for what initiatives you want to work on with these new hours.

Faster Time to Generosity from Potential Donors

Managing donor relationships with an outdated CRM (or worse, manually) is a gigantic task that involves a number of steps and departments. Many nonprofits are all too familiar with the pain of a late thank you letter or a missed anniversary. Now, imagine adding in the task of nurturing your potential donors too. It would be impossible.

But recruiting and converting new contacts into donors is an essential part of your nonprofit’s growth, and your board understands that. To get them excited about how a nonprofit CRM can lead to better fundraising, explain how an automated nurture cycle can build relationships with potential donors.

nonprofit crm software guide

Show your board the current rate of converting website traffic into donors, then give an estimate of the time it takes to make the conversion. Next, provide a projection for how this conversion rate might increase with a powerful CRM. Both the rate and the time it takes to make the conversion are important metrics in making your marketing and development efforts more efficient.

Easier Reporting

Reporting is how your team discovers the insights you need to be better each year. To make the right decisions, you must be able to trust that the data you pull is accurate and up-to-date. That’s a huge challenge when you’re pulling information from different systems, owned by different departments and updated at different times.

Explain to your board members how valuable a single source of truth will be to the efficiency of your nonprofit. Help them understand how many hours are spent collecting data and inputting it into a report. Perhaps give them a step-by-step process of how you currently report on progress, pointing out all the steps where your data is vulnerable to mistakes or inaccuracies.

Most importantly, you want to show your board that the nonprofit CRM is going to do more than organize your data in a different software. It will impact everything from productivity to donor loyalty. Armed with that kind of information, they are much more likely to get excited about investing in a tool for you.

The Benefits of a Nonprofit CRM for Your Donors

Your board members might be the first hurdle, but your donors are the most important. If your donor base believes that you’re spending money irresponsibly, they are much less likely to give. Once you’ve adopted a nonprofit CRM, here are a few ways you can communicate with your donor base about how it will positively impact your mission.

Improved Communications

Engaged donors, those who will want to know why you purchased a new nonprofit CRM, crave constant communication from your organization. They are interested in details about everything — from personnel changes and mission milestones.

Before a dedicated CRM, donors might only see highlights from the end of the year and goals for the next year.  A new CRM will mean more information more frequently. Get donors excited by providing a survey where they can identify the kind of updates they’d like now that you have the power. When they see relevant information more often, they’ll understand just how much work you’re doing every day and won’t think twice about the extra expense.

Increased Transparency

Improved communications also means increased transparency. We know that, more and more, donors expect a certain level of access to information about your work. Even if you want to send out the details, it’s difficult when your data is stored in a few different places.

A single source of truth allows your team to quickly pull reports about a single donor or your nonprofit at large. Mention this to your donors and ask them what they’d like to know about most. Their input will not only show you what their priorities are, but it will also prevent you from spending precious time on reports they don’t value. Remember, the more often donors can feel like they’re part of your team, the more excited they’ll be about all your progress — including buying a nonprofit CRM.

More Time to Do More Good

Ultimately, all your donors need to know is that you’re working towards the mission they care about. Leveraging modern software and tools to make your team more efficient is exactly how you can do more good. When you’re explaining the reason behind a new software migration, simply tell them how it makes your team more efficient and allows you to focus on what matters: changing the world in a positive way.

Investigating the Right Nonprofit CRM for You

To learn more about finding the right nonprofit CRM for your organization, read our Complete Guide to Nonprofit CRMs. You’ll learn important features to look for and what questions to ask during your vetting process.

nonprofit crm software guide

Mckenna Bailey
Mckenna is the marketing writer at Virtuous.

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